Blog Post 4

In my last blog post, I had tried taking action photos with my cell phone. With the phone, there is no way to adjust the camera settings, so it was extremely difficult to capture a moving subject. I met with my mentor before spring break to learn how to use a camera for action photography. The most important setting is the shutter speed. This controls how long light is being let in through the lens. When taking photos, I’ve learned that you want to make the shutter speed as fast as possible without it making the photo too dark. The aperture is used to change the depth of field of the photo which is used to center the focus on the subject which in my case is the mountain biker. Having a larger aperture or shallower depth of field will let more light into the camera which creates a brighter picture. Finally, the ISO adjustment is used to compensate for the lack of light. By increasing the ISO, you make the photo brighter however it also makes the photo look grainy, so it isn’t the same as natural light. After learning how to use the camera properly, I was ready to go and try taking some pictures over spring break.

My goal for spring break was to get out for two photoshoots with no expectations for results. I did them both on the SFU trails with my friends Joseph and Nic and just spent an hour each time experimenting and getting comfortable with the camera. For the first shoot, I went close to 6:30 on a cloudy day which I quickly learned was too late. It was too dark out to have both a fast shutter speed and light, so it made for blurry pictures and or dark ones. Even though I didn’t get any photos I was happy with it was still fun to take the pictures and it gave me some ideas for what I wanted to shoot next time.









Here’s one of the photos that I got from the first day. As you can see, it is blurry due to a slow shutter speed however it is also too dark which means I couldn’t have sped it up anymore. Although the results were frustrating, I learned from my mistake and won’t go out again when it’s that dark.

Other than the darkness, I also found that having one person to shoot went quite slowly because I had to wait for them to hike up and ride down each time. On the second day, I brought a second friend so that I could take twice as many photos and do less standing around waiting. I also waited for a brighter day and went earlier in the day so I could have more light. Because it was brighter out, I could have a higher shutter speed which meant I could freeze the subject and still have the photo bright enough. I got around thirty photos on the second day and of them, I was really happy with four.


Above are the four photos I was happy with, unfortunately, the blog website reduces the quality quite a bit and makes them look blurry. It’s also worth mentioning that I can’t move the pictures in the blog hence the weird spacing between them. The lighting was better than the first day however some of them were still a bit darker than I had wished. This could be fixed with more sunlight or with photoshop. I have prior experience with photoshop and wanted the photos to be brighter, so I went ahead and increased the brightness, vibrance, and highlights of all the photos as well as some other smaller adjustments to make them look how I wanted.

Above are the same four photos after photoshop. As I said, I made all the photos brighter so they stand out more and you can see the surroundings and the subject much better. In the first photo, I love the vibrance of the leaves and the ferns as well as the brightness coming from the sky which makes it look warm and almost like summer. I also like how the subject is in perfect focus and you can tell how steep the terrain is based on the surroundings and his facial expression. In the second and third photos, I was experimenting with aperture and they both turned out nice. By making the tree in the second photo out of focus, it adds a border to the photo without taking your eyes off the subject. In the third photo, I used a shallow depth of field to make the plant out of focus and it makes the photo look more green, bright and natural without taking away from the subject at all. After photoshop, one can see the graininess from the ISO that I mentioned earlier, especially on the rocks in the last photo. I believe this is from the ISO, not photoshop however I will have to check with my mentor in our next meeting.

The biggest challenge with In-Depth this year has been keeping in touch with my mentor. Sometimes it can take up to a week to get an email reply from him which isn’t his fault, but it can get frustrating because it makes the project a lot more difficult. I’ve asked him what the best way of contacting him for a quick reply is and he said email is best. I think that all I can do is keep using email and hope that he gets less busy soon. He was also in Mexico over spring break which meant I had no contact with him over it and am just now getting back in touch. Apart from the slow start to the project, it has been going well. Even after two photoshoots, I am feeling somewhat comfortable with the camera and am feeling good about finding places to take pictures. It’s also been very easy finding people to take pictures of because I have a big group of friends and there’s something in it for them. I already have four more people who I can take pictures of and more friends I could ask, I’ve even been getting ideas from them of what to shoot. Because I’m off to a slow start, I will try and do a photoshoot each week and hopefully get three or four good photos from each one. This way I can get comfortable faster, and I will have more work to show. That way it also isn’t as big of a deal if one day ends up being too dark or it starts raining on us.

In the coming weeks, I will try taking some pictures in the sun hopefully at a bigger mountain but if not, I can resort to SFU again. I will try and focus on getting a faster shutter speed to freeze the moment as well as experimenting with panning motion at a slower shutter speed to show movement.


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